13 Tips for Staying Motivated on Your Fitness Journey

by Jim Richardson | Last Updated: April 28, 2020

We all know what it’s like: you’re supposed to be getting ready to hit the gym but the couch is calling your name in the sweetest voice. Do you give in sometimes? Sure, you do. We all do. But doing it too many times can put you in a dangerous and unhealthy rut.

Photo by Derek Owens on Unsplash

Motivation is an enormous part of sticking to any fitness regime, but how do you stay motivated when it’s so hard sometimes? Here are 13 simple tips for doing just that, and for putting a muzzle on the no-good couch that’s trying to lead you astray.

Tip #1: Schedule it Like a Business Meeting

Choose the time of day your workouts will fit in best with your schedule, pencil them in and then stick to it. Morning workouts are particularly effective because they leave you feeling like a boss for the rest of the day.

Tip #2: Prepare for It

Put your workout gear – clothes, hair ties, earbuds, water bottle, etc. – together the night before and have it ready to go. Being ready gives you one less excuse to fall back on when you’re not feeling like working out.

Tip #3: Get Dressed

You’d be surprised how a simple thing like putting on your exercise clothes and sneakers gets the ball in motion. The next time the couch is serenading you, just make the small commitment to getting dressed for working out. Your chances of going through with the workout increase dramatically if you do. 

Tip #4: Make a Playlist 

Music is a great motivator. Choose a playlist of your favorite get-moving songs. Pop your earbuds in and listen while you’re getting ready to put yourself in the mood before you even begin your workout.

Tip #5: Think of Your Workout as “Me” Time

Someone is always pulling at you for attention: your spouse, your family, your children, your boss. Working out is a blissful time to get away from everyone else’s demands and focus on you. Adjust your viewpoint to see exercise as your chance to spoil yourself. 

Tip #6: Make Yourself Accountable

It’s harder to bail out when you know someone is expecting you to show up. Tell a close friend or family member that you’re making a commitment to fitness. Choose a workout buddy. Sign up for a nonrefundable class. Make an appointment with a personal trainer. It’s so much easier to say no when you’re the only one you’re making promises to.

Tip #7: Be Flexible

If you’ve got a high-intensity workout planned but you wake up feeling lethargic and sore from your last exercise session, your chances of success may take a nosedive. Instead of giving up, roll with the punches. Go for a gentle run or a bike ride instead. If you feel like increasing the challenge once you warm up, add a few sprints to your run or ride in the highest gear for one-minute intervals.

Tip #8: Do a Mini-Workout

When you know in your heart that the couch has truly got you, that you have no intention of going to the gym, just commit to a mini-workout that you can do from the comfort of your living room. Do light stretching for a few minutes, then hop into something simple like 10 burpees, 20 pushups and 20 squats. At the very least, you didn’t give up entirely. And it’s possible this tiny workout will chase away your funk and get you in the mood for a real workout.

Tip #9: Visualize the Middle of Your Workout

Often the hardest part of any workout is the moment right before you begin, when you’re full of dread. Close your eyes and picture yourself after the warm-up when you’re truly committed to finishing the workout. You’re sweating, your muscles are warm, you’re full of energy and you know you’re almost done. If you’re working out outside, imagine the fresh air, the sun on your skin, and the sights and sounds of the outdoors. 

Tip #10: Measure Your Successes 

Wallow in your successes so far. If you’ve gotten into a smaller pair of jeans, enjoy it! If you’ve lost a few pounds, tell someone! If you’ve gotten stronger, flex your muscles! You’ve worked hard for every triumph.

Tip #11: Make a List of Your Goals

Where do you want your fitness journey to take you? Journal it and keep it private. These goals and dreams are for your eyes only. Look at it often to remind you why you started on the path to fitness in the first place.

Tip #12: Keep a Calendar

Post a calendar where you will see it every day. Mark the days you miss your workouts with a red “X” and the days you nailed it with a green “Y.” If you see those red marks adding up, you’ll know to change direction.

Tip #13: Just Drive to the Gym

So, you’ve made up your mind not to work out. Fine. Just do this: throw on your gym clothes and drive there. That’s all. If you still decide not to work out when you get there, no problem. But, chances are just being therewill put you in the mood to work out. And who knows? It might be the most epic workout you’ve ever done.

Sure, staying motivated can be tough. Follow these simple tips to give procrastination a side-step and trick yourself into staying on track. You’ll be glad you did!